Bet Rockets –1 vs. Heat for your NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 12:44 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014 12:44 PM UTC

The Miami Heat aren’t messing around anymore. They’re riding an eight-game winning streak at 6-0-2 ATS into Tuesday’s matchup with the Houston Rockets, who have dropped back-to-back games against the NBA lines.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 3 inclusive:

73-56-1 ATS

20-17 Totals

There’s this guy you maybe haven’t heard of yet, LeBron James? He’s a professional basketball player. Pretty good one, too. James scored a career-high 61 points on Monday night, leading the Miami Heat to a fairly easy 124-107 win over the Charlotte Bobcats (+11.5 away). That means the Heat (43-14 SU, 27-28-2 ATS) are now 5-0-1 ATS since the All-Star break. Balance and order have been restored to the universe.

Now let’s see how Miami does on the road against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. The Houston Rockets (40-19 SU, 30-27-2 ATS) have been idle since Saturday’s 118-110 victory over the Detroit Pistons (+10.5 away), the only game Houston has played since Feb. 26. The Heat have played three times in that span. Perhaps this would be a good spot to take the Rockets as 1-point home faves on the NBA odds board. Perhaps.

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Old Skull

Of course the Heat should be tired going into Tuesday’s contest (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV). They’re the oldest team in the league at an average age of 30.7, positively ancient compared to the No. 12 Rockets at age 25.6. But let’s take a closer look at these past three Miami games. They were all at home against substandard Eastern Conference opponents, and all against teams who operate at a below-average pace:

No. 17 Orlando Magic (96.0 possessions per game)

No. 20 Charlotte Bobcats (95.4)

No. 29 New York Knicks (92.9)

That’s not so bad. Keep in mind as well that Dwyane Wade (22.3 PER) sat on the sidelines Monday while James (29.6 PER) was busy lighting it up. It was another maintenance day for Wade, who is being kept out of as many back-to-back situations as possible to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Miami has a good enough roster to go 8-10 deep even on days when Wade is inactive, and nobody aside from James played for more than 31 minutes on Monday.

The Chandler Parsons Project

The Rockets may be the better rested of these two teams, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthier. Dwight Howard (22.0 PER) didn’t participate in Monday’s workout because of a sore back. Same for Jeremy Lin (13.8 PER). Neither player is certain to play on Tuesday, although Howard’s condition appears less worrisome. Meanwhile, Chandler Parsons (16.5 PER) practiced on Monday and is expected to face the Heat after missing the Pistons game with flu-like symptoms.

Getting Parsons back will be a shot in the arm for a Rockets team that was 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS before hosting Detroit. He’s one the NBA’s greatest glue guys, producing 16.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per 36 minutes while hitting 39.1 percent of his treys. Parsons does the little things that allow Howard and James Harden (22.0 PER) to keep going off.

Oden’s Raven Magic

Having said that, if Howard doesn’t play on Tuesday, or even if he plays at significantly lower than 100 percent, the Rockets will be much less likely to put a halt to Miami’s winning streak. We’ve seen the Heat struggle against larger frontlines with big bodies like DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond. They might handle things better now that Greg Oden (15.4 PER) is getting some more burn, but his minutes are still being capped.

I’m going to take the chance that Howard plays and Houston covers. Although Miami’s disadvantage playing on zero days of rest is somewhat mitigated, it’s still a disadvantage. As always in these situations, check the injury wires before placing your NBA bets, and may the sphere be with you.

NBA Pick: Take the Rockets –1 at BetOnline

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